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Saint Hugh's Christmas Message
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To the Community at St. Hugh's at Parkminster, recorded in A Spirit Of Place: Carthusian Reflections

In part a commemoration also of the first profession of a Carthusian
monk, 12/25/96

We are surrounded by images of life and death. They seem so close,
so somehow alike. There is a babe in the crib, celebrating God's
unlikely presence in the heart of our humanity. That celebration can
be gay and imaginative, to judge form the display at the door of the
chapterhouse!

Then there is the gallant Brother Christopher coming to the end of his
journey, perhaps. In his dependence and level of basic existence he
resembles more and more the new-born infant. And there is Thomas,
somewhere between the two, taking a brave step in the following of
Christ today, a step that is, at once, a dying an coming to life.
Birth implies a leaving of the mother's womb in order to attain to
separate existence.

It is a dying to ego-self, not without pain and fear, that profession
operates. In so far as you can, you will ratify the grace of baptism
by putting on Christ in a new and more radical way. You give yourself
to him with all your poverty in trust and love. What His grace has
begun it will finish. the love of God purifies and fulfills beyond all
we can understand or even desire. But is is hard to let go of the
control of our lives, our faith is often weak. Walking on water can be
frightening!

Again the image of death touches that of life. For Christ says
'Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom
of God.' (Matthew 18:3) We must accept to be born again of the Spirit to a life that transcends the limits of our earthly life, to a
personhood as sons of the eternal father. As the infant in the natural
order does not arrive fully made, so the son of God that you would be
does not arive in one act. He is given and in germ and in capacity,
and hispotentialities must be developed and grow to maturaity.

The essential is first to believe in the love God has for you and
receive in trust and confidence the immense personal gift he makes you in calling you to Himself. Because his grace would raise us above
ourselves, we sometimes would prefer him to choose someone else and leave us in peace!

That would be a peace of lack of true personhood that assumes its
isolation and so renders personality and real communion impossible.
Beyond self-pity and revolt lies self-transcendence. So you must
accept your part of the birth-pangs in Christ and follow him in his
mysterious yet willing poverty and renunciation to the glory of the
totally undreamed of newness of eternal life.

The document of your profession will be put on the altar (a document
greatly adorned!). Profession is a eucharistic act, one of
thanksgiving, adoration, self-offering and communion with Christ and
the Church. The bread and wine that will be transformed into Christ
are the days and years of your life, the tears and joys of your
humanity, the defeats and victories of your battle towards your
personal liberty, the unhealed pain that opens your hearts to the Lord
and your brothers and sisters, the wounds of the Passion that the
risen Christ still bears, the solitude that can become communion, the
profound joy of being that needs only your simple yes to the
mysterious wisdom and love of Gods' willing here and now.

On this day, May Mary be a mother to you, the Church your family, and may Christ be born in your heart.

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